PREP BOYS' SOCCER: Trojans cage Tigers
WORTHINGTON -- Omot Okello is no stranger to scoring goals for the Worthington boys' soccer team.
However, in Tuesday's game against Marshall he added a brand new goal-scoring achievement to his resume.
Okello scored three goals in the contest to complete his first career hat-trick, leading the Trojans to a 5-2 victory against the Tigers in their home opener.
"It felt very, very good," Okello said.
WHS controlled the bulk of possession in the first half and held a 2-0 advantage at halftime, then staved off a late charge by Marshall in the second half.
"The first half we played good, then we kept it up in the second half," Okello said. "They scored two goals from about three meters, but we paid them back."
The Trojans started threatening the MHS net almost immediately after the opening kickoff, breaking through for the first score of the contest at the 9:47 mark on a goal by Hugo Monterroso.
Monterroso's shot was a dribbler that sneaked under Marshall goalkeeper Sathira Wijesekara, then deflected off of the left-hand post with just enough energy to cross the goal line.
Okello displayed his speed by creating a number of goal-scoring chances on deep passes from his teammates, converting his first goal 29:54 into the game on a pass through the Tigers' defense that he lobbed perfectly over Wijesekara and into the right-hand side of the net.
"The first half I told them not to push (the Marshall defense) back way too much," WHS head coach Vilath Lovan said. "You want to push them up so we can lob the ball over and let all the speedy guys go and get it."
Worthington forward Thun Lay showed some speed of his own by scoring a very similar goal to open the scoring for the second half at the 56:17 mark and almost scored again eight minutes later.
Lay drilled a low shot that Wijesekara deflected right up into the air and though the effort came up short, Okello kicked the ball out of midair while facing away from the goal and sent his shot into the open net for his second goal of the game.
"That was a nice goal," Okello said. "I tried to control it, but I saw that the goal was wide open, so that's why I kicked it straight in."
The Trojans had earlier survived a goal-line scramble nine minutes into the second half with starting goalkeeper Ricardo Maldonado and several defenders somehow deflecting a number of consecutive shots by the Tigers.
Marshall finally broke through with a goal by Jesse Grover with 9:32 remaining in the game, with Ethan Hart adding the Tigers' second goal 1:40 later.
Grover collected a loose ball in the WHS defense and sent a shot to the left of Trojan backup goalkeeper Jonathan Miranda. The ball then rolled out of bounds, apparently having missed wide.
However, it was determined after a brief delay that the ball had actually travelled through a hole in the side of the netting, touching the net just enough on the way through to verify that it was indeed a goal.
"I thought that one was out," Miranda said. "At first they weren't going to count it because they thought it was out, but they counted it. I was kind of shocked. In my eyes, when I turned, I thought it went out."
Hart's shot was pure strike from the right-hand side that fooled Miranda, who was making his first varsity appearance.
Not only was it his first time playing varsity, but it was also his first competitive match playing in goal having played in midfield during JV games and earning the backup goalie spot only the previous day in practice.
"I was kind of nervous," Miranda said. "I told myself I wouldn't let more than two goals in. I expected to get scored on, but the second one, I think I messed up on that one. I should have been closer to the post. But then again, as he was coming I thought he was going to center it. I got too confident with him going over there, I thought too much. I tried though."
Worthington was able to keep the Tigers at bay as time expired, though Okello still had time to add an insurance goal with 47 seconds left.
Hector Figueroa set up the goal with a perfect cross from a free kick just outside the right-hand side of the penalty area. The ball sailed straight to Okello's head and he drilled it home for a no-doubt score to complete his hat-trick.
Lovan was very happy from what he saw out of his players in the game.
"I give credit to my players -- they played together, they did well today, the fans saw that," Lovan said. "They kind of like the styles that I put into them."
A number of younger players got significant playing time for the Trojans to match up with a generally younger Tiger squad.
WHS (3-0) will host Southwest Christian on Thursday.
"Southwest Christian always plays good against us," Lovan said. "It's always a good game, no matter what. I expect it to be a tough game."
Marshall 0 2 -- 2
Worthington 2 3 -- 5